Antrim and District Amateur Radio Society

| May 13, 2020

This present Covid19 pandemic has forced us to adopt new routines in our day to day lives and it has also forced amateur radio clubs to consider new operating practices that will help keep the clubs together. In this light my own club, Antrim and District Amateur Radio Society, have tried various means to keep the club operating and to maintain contact with one another, especially members who live alone. So what have we tried?

Region 8 has for some time promoted a weekly Friday club net on 2 metres. This was our first port of call and indeed every Friday night our members can be found on 2 metres. We discuss all sorts of things, not least future plans for the club. These club nets sometimes spilled over and continued on Saturday evening. But a club needs active management, so we looked at how the club committee could continue to operate and continue to steer the club forward. Zoom video conferencing came to the rescue and the club purchased a licence for full unrestricted operation. We now have Zoom Committee meetings.

I am sure most clubs miss their monthly or weekly club meetings. Again Zoom provided the opportunity to hold weekly meetings; in normal times we meet monthly. Initially for the first few meetings we showed a video, from the RSGB video collection. Our meetings evolved to bring in amateurs from outside the club, and indeed outside Northern Ireland. Ron VE3FXX from London Ontario made a guest appearance and spoke about the state of amateur radio in Canada. Our club is beginning to developed an international theme, and we now find that opportunities for embracing new ideas has increased.

Our next initiative was to organise a demonstration of a radio activity over Zoom. So we invited Ray M0DHP to demonstrate Fast Scan TV. Ray, who lives near London, put quite a bit of effort into developing a most interesting demonstration, even operating his kit over Zoom, and showing us how it all fits together. Ray’s presentation covered how parts of his kit was home brewed, what parts were off the shelf, how it was all put together and he even used it live within the presentation to show us the layout. Software interfaces were also covered. We already have a guest appearance arranged for our next weekly meeting – Joe Fischer, AA8TA, from Columbus Ohio. In some ways it’s better than a physical meeting as we are not limited by geography.

Antrim and District Amateur Radio Society see this approach as the way forward in a period when there is not likely to be a return to physical meetings for some time to come. So we need to plan carefully for future meetings in order to make them interesting. As well as club meetings taking place on Zoom, the club management committee also meets over Zoom and we now find our meeting more lively and participative.

One unintended consequence of this Covid-19 emergency is that our club now meets more often than it ever did before, we have a larger geographical reach and our members are more active within the hobby.

Roger Bradley, MI0WWB
District Representative 82 (Co Down)

Category: CV-Support, GOTA2C: Clubs, groups and societies